Events

Entries - Entry Category: Events

Smithville, Skirmish at (June 17, 1862)

  After securing Missouri for the Union by routing the Confederate Army of the West at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Union Army of the Southwest under General Samuel Curtis moved into northeast Arkansas and occupied Batesville (Independence County) on its mission to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). There, Curtis divided his force in the region, and the Fifth Illinois Cavalry (US) moved into Pocahontas (Randolph County) from Doniphan, Missouri, to reinforce a Union division under General Frederick Steele. From there, a battalion of the Fifth Illinois under Major A. H. Seley was sent to the vicinity of Smithville, the seat of government for Lawrence County and a strategic location along the Military Road that connected …

Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas Expedition

By late 1862, much of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas was overrun by large armies of both the Union and Confederacy. After they marched off to other campaigns outside the region, the area was left in the hands of smaller Federal and Confederate forces that were in frequent competition, both sides attempting to gain an advantage. Information-gathering incursions, such as this one initiated by Federal forces into Boone County in late 1862, were typical of the smaller military operations. On November 8, 1862, Captain Milton Burch of the Fourteenth Missouri Cavalry (Militia) was ordered to lead a detachment of Missouri militia from Ozark, Missouri, into northern Arkansas to gather information about Confederate forces in the area. The force of approximately …

Spanish-American War

On April 25, 1898, after months of discussion and negotiations concerning the revolt in Cuba, an island possessed by Spain, the U.S. Congress officially declared war upon Spain. For months, the national media, including Arkansas newspapers, had been filing exaggerated reports concerning the revolt in Cuba, stirring up anti-Spanish sentiment throughout the country. By the time of the unexplained sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor in February 1898, many citizens of Arkansas were ready for war. On the same day as the war declaration, Governor Daniel Webster Jones received a message from the U.S. Department of War requesting that Arkansas provide two regiments of National Guard troops, approximately 2,000 soldiers. This was a difficult task for the …

Spring River near Smithville, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Spring River (April 13, 1864)
aka: Skirmish at Smithville (April 13, 1864)
Union forces sought to solidify their control in northeast Arkansas and safeguard important supply lines after Federal troops occupied Little Rock (Pulaski County) in September 1863 and the state’s Confederates fled to establish a new capital at Washington (Hempstead County). Colonel Robert R. Livingston and his Union forces reoccupied Batesville (Independence County) on Christmas Day 1863 to establish the headquarters of the District of Northeastern Arkansas. Union forces at Batesville attempted to suppress small bands of regular and irregular Confederates in the region during the following months. Confederate bands were especially active in the vicinity of Smithville, the seat of government for Lawrence County. Union forces collided with a larger Confederate force composed of elements of Freeman’s Brigade on February …

Spring River, Action at

aka: Battle of Salem
The largest Civil War engagement in Fulton County, the Action at Spring River occurred when Union forces from Missouri ventured into north-central Arkansas in search of Confederate cavalry bands seeking to unite as a regiment. Fought over the space of four hours, the battle resulted in the temporary elimination of a Confederate presence in southern Missouri, as well as sixteen Union and well over 100 Confederate casualties. Lieutenant Colonel. Samuel N. Wood of the Sixth Missouri Cavalry Regiment led a force of 250 troopers of his regiment and 130 men of the Third Iowa Cavalry led by Major William C. Drake south from Missouri on March 10, 1862. They were in pursuit of Confederate troops commanded by Colonel W.O. Coleman, …

St. Charles, Capture of

A bloodless engagement, the January 13, 1863, capture of St. Charles (Arkansas County) was part of a larger Federal movement up the White River after the capture of Fort Hindman earlier that month. St. Charles served as an important Confederate stronghold before its abandonment and subsequent capture. Located on high ground on the west bank of the White River, St. Charles is the first defensible location north of the junction of the White and the Arkansas rivers. Fortified by Confederate forces in June 1862, St. Charles was attacked by Federal forces the same month. While Union troops did take St. Charles, it was only after a substantial engagement that saw massive casualties among the Federal sailors in the expedition. With …

St. Charles, Engagement at

After the fall of Memphis, Tennessee, the Confederate navy was on the defense. Three Confederate war ships made their way up Arkansas’s White River to save themselves and also to defend the White River from invasion by the Union troops. Union major general Samuel R. Curtis and his Army of the Southwest advanced from Pea Ridge (Benton County) through the Ozark Mountains to Batesville (Independence County). Curtis later set up headquarters at Jacksonport (Jackson County), where the White and Black rivers converged. Confederate major general Thomas C. Hindman, the “Lion of the South,” was in charge of the defense of Arkansas. Hindman’s main objective was to slow the Union side’s movement so that the Confederates could prepare to defend Arkansas. …

St. Francis Road, Skirmish at

This brief engagement in Phillips County occurred in relation to some of the earliest Federal operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi. Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman, commander of the District of Eastern Arkansas headquartered at Helena (Phillips County), reported that an unspecified unit of Texas cavalry had attacked a Federal outpost of pickets on the St. Francis Road near Helena on December 23, 1862. Casualties at the outpost included two Federal soldiers killed and sixteen wounded, with no report of Confederate losses. Federal cavalry vigorously pursued the Texans and forced them to scatter in order to make their final escape through a patch of woods. Although unidentified in the official reports, the attack may have been conducted by Captain Alfred Johnson’s Company …

Steamer Alamo, Attack on

As the Civil War in Arkansas progressed and Federal forces advanced farther into the interior of the state, the rivers became important byways for the transportation of soldiers and supplies. The steamboat Alamo was one of the many steamers put into service on the Arkansas River by Federal authorities. In November 1864, on a routine supply trip to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the steamer was attacked by Confederate forces. Such attacks along the rivers were common. On November 29, 1864, a detachment of thirty soldiers of the Fortieth Iowa Volunteers under the command of Second Lieutenant John T. S. Fry boarded the steamer Alamo at Dardanelle (Yell County). The detachment was to guard the steamer on a supply run to …

Steamer Miller, Capture of

The capture and destruction of the Union stern-wheel steamer J. H. Miller illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, almost a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In February 1864, the J. H. Miller, displacing 130 tons of water, joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron serving under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Captain Stephen R. Harrington of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, reporting from camp thirty miles from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the north bank of the Arkansas River, unidentified Confederate guerrillas attacked and captured Miller on August 17, 1864, from the south side of the Arkansas River and burned the …

Steamer Perry, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union side-wheel steamer John D. Perry illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, one year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. In the spring of 1863 the Union Army’s Quartermaster Department chartered the John D. Perry for service on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), approximately 100 unidentified Confederate partisans attacked the Perry on September 9, 1864, just below Clarendon (Monroe County) from the east side of the White River while the vessel transported a portion of Major General Joseph …

Steamer Resolute, Attack on

The 1864 attack on the Union steam tug Resolute illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, more than a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union. Chartered on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department for use as an auxiliary vessel, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons of water and served with two barges transporting troops and supplies on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, commanding the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), an indeterminate number of unidentified Confederate partisans fired at the Resolute at 8:00 p.m. on October 11, 1864, …

Stewart’s Plantation, Skirmish at

Following his victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, General Samuel Curtis, with intentions of capturing Little Rock (Pulaski County), moved his Union Army of the Southwest into northeast Arkansas, occupying Batesville (Independence County). Here, he split his force into three divisions, with one division under the command of General Frederick Steele dispatched to occupy the river port town of Jacksonport (Jackson County). While on a foraging expedition, made necessary by major supply problems that would lead to a cross-country march to Helena (Phillips County) to establish a supply line on the Mississippi River, Steele’s forces engaged Confederate forces in the Skirmish at Stewart’s Plantation on June 27, 1862. As supplies began to run low, Steele received …

Sugar Creek, Action at

aka: Battle of Dunagin's Farm
aka: Action at Little Sugar Creek
 The Action at Sugar Creek, commonly known as the Battle of Dunagin’s Farm, was the first battle of the Civil War wholly fought in Arkansas and was part of the tug of war between the North and the South for control of Missouri. In late 1861, after the victory at Wilson’s Creek on August 10, 1861, the Missouri State Guard under Major General Sterling Price occupied Springfield, Missouri, and settled into winter quarters, not expecting pressure from Federal troops until spring. But on January 1, 1862, Major General Samuel R. Curtis and the Union’s Army of the Southwest prepared to march on Springfield and rid Missouri of enemy troops. Price, aware of the Federals’ advance, knew that he could not …

Sugar Loaf Prairie, Affair at

The 1865 Affair at Sugar Loaf Prairie was a unique encounter between Union troops and guerrillas in extreme northern Arkansas in which a cave was used as a hiding place.  On January 8, 1865, a scouting mission of twenty-five men of the Seventy-third Infantry Enrolled Missouri Militia under the command of Lieutenant Willis Kissel moved from Forsyth, Missouri, in an effort to look for two bands of guerrillas who were operating in the southern part of the state. Moving into Arkansas, the Federals learned from a local family that the guerrilla band under the command of Alfred Cook was hiding in a cave near Sugar Loaf Prairie about two miles away. Kissel captured Cook’s son, and the youth led the …

Sylamore, Skirmishes at (January 23 and 26, 1864)

After Arkansas seceded from the Union in May 1861, the Confederate Congress urged state leaders to make provisions for the manufacture of arms and munitions, including saltpeter, a major component of gunpowder. On August 21, the steamboat New Moon arrived at Sylamore (Stone County) with a cargo of thirty huge kettles, a steam engine, and a hammer mill to produce gunpowder for the Confederacy. They were brought up the North Fork of Sylamore Creek to what became known as Gunner Pool (now located in the Ozark National Forest). Governor Henry Rector placed Colonel Thomas R. Freeman in charge of the militia units to protect the munitions efforts. As steamships loaded and unloaded cargo and supplies for all of northern Arkansas …

Talbot’s Ferry, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Talbert's Ferry
The Skirmish at Talbot’s Ferry (also known as Talbert’s Ferry) in Marion County was one of many skirmishes associated with General Samuel Curtis’s campaign in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in 1862. The fighting was concentrated around a Confederate saltpeter manufactory located along the White River at Talbot’s Ferry near Yellville (Marion County). On April 19, 1862, a detachment under the command of Captain James T. Drummond of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry crossed the White River near Yellville with intentions of locating and destroying the Confederate saltpeter manufactory located eight miles south of Little North Fork—now part of Bull Shoals Lake—on the south side of the river. During his patrol, Captain Drummond captured three men thought to be Confederate pickets placed …

Taylor, Zachary (Leadership of Fort Smith)

Prior to becoming the twelfth president of the United States, Colonel Zachary Taylor commanded the military at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) from 1841 until 1844. Taylor frequently clashed with local Arkansans who sought to preserve their access to the soldiers stationed at the fort who bought their whiskey and other goods. Most notably, locals resisted Taylor’s desires to cease the construction of the fort at Fort Smith as well as abandon nearby Fort Wayne in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). On May 1, 1841, Taylor was promoted from his military position in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to lead the Second Military Department at Fort Gibson (in present-day Oklahoma near the Arkansas border) and Fort Smith. Taylor’s promotion was opposed by locals who were …

Taylor’s Creek and Mount Vernon, Skirmishes at

aka: Skirmish at Crowley's Ridge
Returning from his ill-fated attack on Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in April 1863, John S. Marmaduke scattered his Confederate forces from Wittsburg (Cross County) to Marianna (Lee County) in Arkansas, with Archibald Dobbins at Hughes’ Ferry. Hearing of Marmaduke’s return, Federal commanders at Helena (Phillips County) ordered Colonel Powell Clayton to take approximately 1,000 cavalry and three pieces of artillery to stop the Confederates from reestablishing in eastern Arkansas by destroying all food supplies and forage. If Confederates were denied this support system of food, shelter, and slaves, the Federal army could maintain superiority in eastern Arkansas and the Mississippi River to Helena, thus enhancing Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign to take Vicksburg, Mississippi. Clayton’s second goal was to determine if Sterling …

Terre Noire Creek, Skirmish at

aka: Skirmish at Antoine
aka: Skirmish at Wolf Creek
  The Skirmish at Wolf Creek, one of the engagements fought during the Camden Expedition, was fought one mile east of the Terre Noire Creek along a defile near the town of Antoine (Pike County). A Confederate detachment attacked a Union supply train of more than 200 wagons traveling toward Camden (Ouachita County) and guarded by the Twenty-ninth Iowa, as well as the Fiftieth Indiana and Ninth Wisconsin regiments. The skirmish was one of the earlier engagements associated with General Frederick Steele’s attempt to push south through Arkansas. The Twenty-ninth Iowa was assigned as the rear guard of the main supply regiment with the Fiftieth Indiana as support. While moving across a defile caused by the Terre Noire Creek, the …

Thirty-Eighth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-Eighth Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Craighead, Independence, Izard, Lawrence, and Randolph counties. The regiment began organization in June 1862 as a mounted infantry unit but was dismounted in August 1862 and mustered into Confederate service with ten companies on September 21, 1862, at Jacksonport (Jackson County). The elected field officers of the unit were Colonel Robert G. Shaver, Lieutenant Colonel William. C. Adams, and Major Milton Baber. The Thirty-Eighth Arkansas experienced its first combat on December 7, 1862, at the Battle of Prairie Grove. Assigned to a brigade commanded by Shaver of Frost’s Division, the Thirty-Eighth, under Adams, …

Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Conway, Independence, Jackson, Pope, Van Buren, and Yell counties. Organized originally as a four-company battalion under the command of Major Thomas H. McCray in January 1862, it reorganized on May 25, 1862, as the Thirty-First Arkansas Infantry with ten companies. The original field officers were Colonel Thomas H. McCray, Lieutenant Colonel James F. Johnson, and Major James W. Clark. After initial assignment to the brigade of Brigadier General J. L. Hogg in Major General John P. McCown’s division at Corinth, Mississippi, it was ordered to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and transferred to the division of …

Titan II Missile Accident (1965)

Titan II ICBM Launch Complex 373-4 near Searcy (White County) was the site of an accident on August 9, 1965, in which fifty-three workers were killed—the largest loss of life ever suffered in a U.S. nuclear weapons facility. Titan II ICBM Launch Complex 373-4 was one of eighteen Arkansas launch complexes operated by the 308th Strategic Missile Squadron headquartered at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville (Pulaski County). Construction of Launch Complex 373-4 had commenced on January 3, 1961, and was finished on July 31, 1962—the first of the 308th’s sites to be completed and the first to go on alert (meaning that it was fully operational and ready to respond) on May 16, 1963. After it had …

Titan II Missile Explosion (1980)

The Titan II Launch Complex 374-7 in Southside (Van Buren County), just north of Damascus (Van Buren and Faulkner counties), became the site of the most highly publicized disaster in the history of the Titan II missile program when its missile exploded within the launch duct on September 19, 1980. An Air Force airman was killed, and the complex was destroyed. The Titan II Missile Launch Complex 374-7 Site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 18, 2000. Complex 374-7 had already been the site of one significant accident on January 27, 1978, when an oxidizer leak sent a cloud of toxic fumes 3,000 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 100 feet high drifting across U.S. Highway …

Tulip, Skirmish at

The October 11, 1863, Skirmish at Tulip was a small action in which Union colonel Powell Clayton led men from the Fifth Kansas and First Indiana Cavalry Regiments in an attack that routed Colonel Archibald Dobbins’s First Arkansas Cavalry Regiment, capturing men and equipment. Also captured was a flag that became a prized artifact in the collection of the Old State House Museum. Following the Union occupation of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 10, 1863, a delegation of citizens from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) came to Little Rock and asked General Frederick Steele to establish a garrison there to protect property and keep citizens from being conscripted into the Confederate army. Steele duly ordered Clayton’s small cavalry brigade to …

Twelfth Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Twelfth Arkansas Infantry Regiment was a Confederate unit that served in both the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters during the American Civil War. Composed of companies and men primarily from Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Ouachita, and Sevier counties, the regiment was organized on July 27, 1861, in Arkadelphia (Clark County) by Congressman Edward Gantt. The troops elected Gantt as colonel, W. D. Cook as lieutenant colonel, and Thomas J. Reid as major. The regiment crossed the Mississippi River and garrisoned Columbus, Kentucky, during the Battle of Belmont in Missouri. Afterward, it transferred to New Madrid, Missouri, serving as garrison of Fort Thompson, along with the Eleventh Arkansas Infantry, operating as pickets in front of New Madrid. In March …

Twenty-Seventh Arkansas Infantry (CS)

The Twenty-Seventh Arkansas Infantry was a Confederate unit that served in the Trans-Mississippi Theater during the American Civil War. The unit was composed of men primarily from Carroll, Izard, Fulton, Marion, and Searcy counties. The regiment organized in July 1862, when a number of mounted companies were dismounted and augmented with conscripts. Colonel James Shaler, a former Missouri State Guard officer, was appointed as colonel, with A. J. Magenis as lieutenant colonel and Beal Gaither as major. The Twenty-Seventh moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in preparation for the planned attack on Union forces in northwestern Arkansas. Assigned to Colonel Robert Shaver’s Brigade, in Brigadier General Daniel Frost’s Division, the Twenty-Seventh did not join its sister regiments in their first …

Union Occupation of Arkansas

At the Arkansas Secession Convention in May 1861, only Isaac Murphy, among seventy total delegates, refused to repudiate Arkansas’s bonds with the United States. The total delegation was representative of the wishes of many Arkansans, but Unionist sentiment ran deep in some regions, and eagerness for secession was not wholly unanimous among ordinary Arkansans expected to rally to the Confederate cause. During the war, these same ordinary Arkansans were pressed by Union and Confederate armies for conscription and forage, and devastation wrought by irregular partisans hastened a complete breakdown of civilized society in many parts of the state. Union forces were successful in reestablishing law and order as they pushed into Arkansas but were largely restricted to the area around their …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1911

Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the twenty-first annual United Confederate Veterans Reunion on May 16–18, 1911. The reunion drew more than 140,000 people, including approximately 12,000 veterans, making it the largest event in Little Rock history until William Jefferson Clinton’s election night in 1992. The United Confederate Veterans (UCV) formed in 1889 with a goal of keeping alive the memory of the men who fought for the South during the Civil War and to bring national attention to the needs of the aging veterans. The annual reunion was one of the group’s major projects, and towns across the country vied to host the event. Judge William M. Kavanaugh chaired Little Rock’s planning committee for the event. Subcommittees arranged for lodging, …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1928

The thirty-eighth annual national reunion of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), held on May 8–11, 1928, marked the second time that Little Rock (Pulaski County) served as the event’s host city, seventeen years after the much-celebrated 1911 reunion. Governor John Ellis Martineau’s personal invitation, along with a $30,000 legislative appropriation to provide free entertainment for all veterans, helped Little Rock beat out the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Lexington, Kentucky, for the honor. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) oversaw all planning. Edmund R. Wiles, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Division of the SCV, served as general chairman of the reunion committee and used the War Memorial Building (now the Old State House) as committee headquarters. In November 1927, Wiles dispelled …

United Confederate Veterans Reunion of 1949

The fifty-ninth annual national reunion of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) marked the third and final time that Little Rock (Pulaski County) served as host city for the event. Thereafter, the UCV held only two more national reunions. The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) planned and organized all of the event’s activities. Little Rock’s Robert C. Newton Camp of the SCV served as the host organization throughout the reunion. Other organizations associated with the reunion included the Order of the Stars and Bars and the Confederated Southern Memorial Association (CSMA). Due to the limited number of living Civil War veterans, reunion officials expected no more than eight veterans to attend the event. Even this modest attendance expectation went unfulfilled, however, …

USS Queen City, Sinking of

The USS Queen City was captured and sunk during an engagement on the White River in June 1864. It is the only example of a warship’s being captured by land forces in Arkansas. The Union stationed the Queen City on the White River in eastern Arkansas to protect barges going up the river to DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) and to combat any Confederate troops in the area. DeValls Bluff was vital to the Union forces in occupied Little Rock (Pulaski County) at the time, because much of their supplies were brought up the White from the Mississippi River and placed on a railroad in DeValls Bluff that then carried the goods to Little Rock. If the White were closed to …

Van Buren, Capture of

  Following the December 7, 1862, Battle of Prairie Grove, Major General Thomas C. Hindman took the Confederate army under his command south of the Boston Mountains. Union generals James G. Blunt and Francis J. Herron rested their troops for three days and then began discussing an expedition toward Van Buren (Crawford County). They planned to take 8,000 of their best troops south and engage Hindman’s army. Six inches of snowfall from a winter storm delayed the generals from putting any plans into action, but they were able to meet to complete plans by Christmas night. They planted stories among their troops that they were going to proceed toward Huntsville (Madison County) so that any spies in the camps would …

Van Buren, Skirmish at (April 2, 1865)

A brief engagement in the last days of the Civil War, this skirmish shows that violence was still common in the state, even at this late date in the war. Numerous groups of Confederates and guerrillas operated across Arkansas during this period. Federal forces held major cities—including Little Rock (Pulaski County), Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—but exercised little permanent control outside of these strongholds. On the night of April 2, 1865, a group of twenty mounted Confederates robbed several civilians about two miles outside of Van Buren (Crawford County). The victims reported the incident to Brigadier General Cyrus Bussey at Fort Smith, who immediately dispatched all of his available men in pursuit of the enemy. At …

Van Buren, Skirmish at (August 12, 1864)

Fought in the aftermath of the July 31, 1864, Action at Fort Smith, this skirmish was just one of many that continued to take place in western Arkansas late in the Civil War. Fort Smith (Sebastian County) served as an important Federal post at this point of the war, and nearby Van Buren (Crawford County) was also held by Union forces. The late July skirmish was one of only a few organized movements by Confederate forces against the fortified settlements. Federal troops more typically faced guerrilla attacks at this time. Colonel Thomas Bowen of the Thirteenth Kansas Infantry served as commander of the Federal garrison at Van Buren and regularly reported to Brigadier General John Thayer, commander of the District …

Vine Prairie, Skirmish at

This skirmish occurred as part of a reconnaissance patrol planned by Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison but commanded by Captain Charles Galloway of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US), designed to eliminate the Confederate guerrilla band led by Peter “Old Pete” Mankins Jr. (whose small irregular unit repeatedly harassed Harrison’s operations in northwestern Arkansas). On January 31, 1863, Harrison ordered Galloway and eighty-one troopers from Company E of the First Arkansas Cavalry to Huntsville (Madison County) to protect a public convention of approximately 1,000 Unionists and to assist Colonel James M. Johnson in the organization of the First Arkansas Infantry. Afterward, Harrison ordered Galloway toward the Arkansas River in pursuit of Mankins. On February 2, 1863, Galloway entered Ozark (Franklin County) rather …

Waddell’s Farm (near Village Creek), Skirmish at

 While on a foraging expedition on June 12, 1862, a detachment of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry engaged a Confederate force at Waddell’s Farm (also called Waddill’s Farm in some sources) near Village Creek in Jackson County, Arkansas. Bettering the Confederates, the Federals filled some thirty-six wagons with supplies before returning to Camp Tucker close to the junctions of the Black and White rivers. When Confederate major general Earl Van Dorn stripped Arkansas of all valuable military supplies to support operations in the Western Theater, Jacksonport (Jackson County) was abandoned of all reasonable defenses. The new commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, Major General Thomas Hindman, had to create a new army from scratch. Consequently, he appointed individuals across the state such …

Waldron War

The Waldron War was a decade-long period of violence that began during the Reconstruction era and was characterized by arson, general lawlessness, personal and political feuds, electoral misconduct, and violence—including murder—throughout Scott County. The civil strife resulted in Governors Augustus Garland and William Read Miller dispatching the state militia to the county on at least three occasions to restore order. With much of Waldron (Scott County) burned by departing Union troops in 1864, the citizens faced the reestablishment of the infrastructure of the town. While hostile feelings remained between those sympathetic to the Union cause and the Confederate cause, much of the strife was attributed to personality conflicts within the local Republican Party. Although there was the occasional outburst of …

Waldron, Attacks on

The capture of Waldron (Scott County) was the beginning of the Federal sweep south of the Arkansas River to rid western Arkansas of Confederates and guerrilla bands, before consolidating with other forces in the spring of 1864 for the Red River Campaign. When Colonel William F. Cloud of the Second Kansas Cavalry defeated Confederate brigadier general William L. Cabell’s forces at Devil’s Backbone Ridge south of Greenwood (Sebastian County) on September 1, 1863—on the same day that Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was occupied by Major General James Gilpatrick Blunt (US)—Waldron’s northern and western sides were defenseless. More than one skirmish happened in Scott County before the order was issued to occupy Waldron. The first attack happened one day after the …

Wallace’s Ferry, Action at

aka: Action at Big Creek
The action at Wallace’s Ferry was fought July 26, 1864, as Union forces left Helena (Phillips County) on a reconnaissance mission to find Confederate cavalry raiders operating in Phillips County. In late June and early July 1864, Brigadier General Joseph O. Shelby, the Confederate commander of northeast Arkansas, dispatched 1,000 cavalrymen under Colonel Archibald Dobbins and Colonel B. Frank Gordon to raid Phillips County plantations that were being operated under the auspices of the U.S. government. The Union commander in Helena, Brigadier General Napoleon B. Buford, sent out a reconnaissance in force on July 25 to locate and hinder the operations of the Rebel horsemen. The Union force under Colonel W. S. Brooks (whose brother Joseph would later be a …

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was the first conflict that the involved the United States after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. While it did not have a direct impact within the state’s current borders, the war did influence events that would continue to shape Arkansas for decades. Modern-day Arkansas was at that time part of the Missouri Territory, which was renamed from the Louisiana Territory on June 4, 1812, when the new state of Louisiana joined the Union. The population in Arkansas was recorded at just over 1,000 in 1810, and the area did not have any major towns or cities. The territorial government in Missouri created the first county in the future state in 1813 with the establishment of Arkansas …

Washington and Benton County Expedition

  After the battles of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, the Civil War in northwestern Arkansas settled into smaller skirmishes and interactions between irregular forces on both sides of the conflict. To attempt to control the Confederate guerrillas, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison, Union commander at Fayetteville (Washington County), sent out frequent expeditions to hunt down and dislodge Rebels. He also devised a plan to destroy or disable grist mills belonging to or operated by Rebels. Harrison felt that the mills were congregating places for the Rebels and that the destruction of those places would lessen problems with guerrillas. On August 21, 1864, some of the Union troops serving under Harrison prepared to leave Fayetteville on an expedition through Washington and Benton …

Waugh’s Farm, Skirmish at

Colonel Robert Livingston and his small Union army entered Batesville (Independence County) on Christmas Day in 1863, having been sent to re-occupy the city, which had not had a continuous Union presence since June 1862. Their task was to keep the peace in the area and promote Federal control. That proved difficult, for they were surrounded by small mobile Confederate guerrilla units and outlaw gangs who preyed on small detachments, especially foraging expeditions, outside of Batesville. The most disastrous Union loss in the Batesville area was at the farm of Virginian Lewis Waugh twelve miles west of town. On February 18, 1864, a foraging train of thirty-five wagons—escorted by 100 soldiers of the Eleventh Missouri Cavalry and Fourth Arkansas Mounted …

West Point, Engagement at

aka: Little Red River Raid
The Confederacy suffered a crushing defeat on July 4, 1863, following an unsuccessful assault on the Union garrison at Helena (Phillips County), which was intended to relieve pressure on besieged Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, and the defeat at Helena—coupled with Confederate surrender at Port Hudson, Louisiana, on July 9—severed Arkansas, Texas, and western Louisiana from the rest of the Confederate states. Major General Sterling Price was formally tasked with the defense of Arkansas on July 23, but increasing desertions within the Rebel ranks thinned the already meager forces available to resist the imminent Union push to capture Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Little Rock Campaign involved the movement of two Union columns: a division led by Brigadier …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (April 14, 1864)

  The Skirmish at White Oak Creek occurred on the evening of April 14, 1864, the day before Union forces seized the city of Camden (Ouachita County). Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr led the Cavalry Division of the VII Corps to a position along the creek before sunset and set up camp for the evening. Prior to retiring for the night, Carr dispatched 500 Union troops down the Washington Road, 250 men at the junction of the Washington Road and the road from Lone Grove to Camden, and 250 men to a crossroad one and a half miles away. There was also a Confederate reconnaissance group of sixty men within half a mile of Carr’s position that had met and …

White Oak Creek, Skirmish at (September 29, 1864)

  As part of the Fort Smith Expedition, the Skirmish at White Oak Creek was a culmination of skirmishes beginning with Clarksville (Johnson County) on September 28 and ending with Union forces arriving at Van Buren (Crawford County) on the evening of September 30. Major Thomas Derry of the Third Wisconsin Infantry had his troops camp three miles beyond Clarksville on the evening of September 28. To their dismay, Confederate forces bushwhacked the Union camp on all sides. Union skirmishers drove Confederates away until dark. Throughout the night and into the early morning, Confederate forces attempted to cross Union pickets in the midst of a severe storm but failed in every attempt. One Union soldier was killed during these attempts. …

White River Expedition (August 5–8, 1862)

The White River Expedition of August 5–8, 1862, consisted of a small portion of the Union navy in Arkansas traveling from Helena (Phillips County) down the Mississippi River to the mouth of the White River to perform reconnaissance and overcome any possible Confederate forces hiding along the shoreline. Led by Colonel Isaac Shepard on board the steamer Iatan and Lieutenant Colonel Bischoff, a fleet of four gunboats, three rams, and one steamer departed on August 5at 10:30 p.m., with the exception of the gunboat White Cloud, as it remained in port taking in coal. At 3:00 a.m. on August 6, the fleet reached Old Town (Phillips County), where the gunboats continued their operation along the river and the other ships …

White River Expedition (December 13–15, 1864)

  The purpose of the White River Expedition (December 13–15, 1864) was to gain information about the Confederate whereabouts along the White River. The successful Union expedition played an important role in gathering intelligence in the White River and Augusta (Woodruff County) area. On December 13, Union colonel Hans Mattson, under the orders of his commanding division, proceeded to board the Third Minnesota Infantry, with 400 infantry and 150 cavalry, from DeValls Bluff (Prairie County) onto the steamers Sir William Wallace and Kate Hart. At 8:00 that evening, Col. Mattson dispatched Captain John Flesher along with seventy-five cavalry at Peach Orchard Bluff, along the White River. Later that evening, ninety-five infantry under the command of Captain O. F. Dreher disembarked …

White River Expedition (February 20–26, 1864)

  The White River Expedition of February 20–26, 1864, resulted in Union forces capturing numerous troops from different Confederate infantry and cavalry units. To the dismay of the Union cavalry involved in this expedition, the Confederate troops in the area were able to attack Union forces, recapture some of their own troops, and retreat without Union forces keeping up. Without the proper rations, the Union forces returned to Helena (Phillips County) with the remaining Confederate prisoners to regroup. After receiving orders to travel up the White River, Major Eagleton Carmichael, commander of the expedition, and Captain Ezra King of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry embarked on February 20, 1864, from Helena aboard the Cheek, leaving at 5:00 p.m. Arriving at the …

White River Expedition (February 4–8, 1864)

Embarking on the steamer Cheek on a scouting expedition on February 4, 1864, Captain Charles O’Connell led a Union expeditionary force from Helena (Phillips County) up the White River. He commanded 100 men of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry; forty men of the Third Arkansas Infantry, African Descent under Captain John W. Robinson; and one piece of artillery and seven artillerymen of the Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery, Battery E under Lieutenant John C. Haddock. Embarking from Helena at 9:00 a.m., the small collection of Union forces destroyed one flat boat prior to reaching Friars Point at 11:00 a.m., where they saw four cotton boats and discovered their gunboat had been ordered to Memphis, Tennessee, and the steamer White to return …